By: Max Crampton-Thomas
3 min read January 2020 — A growing economy in the Tampa Bay region equates to growth mode for most local businesses. One of the most important aspects of keeping this growth consistent is reducing costs in a smart and consistent manner. This can be achieved through an emphasis on reducing energy consumption. Full-service energy management companies like Brandon-based Integral Energy have recognized the opportunities in the market and have found demand for their multiple services throughout the Tampa Bay region. Invest: spoke with the president and CEO of Integral Energy, Anddrikk Frazier, about his business, demand for services and much more.
How is Tampa Bay a strategic location for your business operations?
My first job was in the energy sector in Tampa and watching the growth in the region over the course of my lifetime is impressive. What separates Tampa from other cities across Florida are features like ports, airports and the ability to connect to anywhere in the Florida within three hours.
Where have you seen the most demand among the variety of services you offer?
Integral Energy is a full-service energy management company. We provide natural gas marketing services for commercial customers throughout the state of Florida. We also provide solutions for transportation companies as it relates to alternative fuels. Thirdly, our energy management division helps large businesses that consume large quantities of energy to understand their operating costs on a per plate or per widget basis and then we find ways to reduce those operational costs. I think the biggest demand for service comes from energy management requests and natural gas marketing. Many of our customers do not understand how energy costs are passed on, simply because that is not where the priority lies for hotels, convention centers and other large businesses. We have the ability to reduce energy costs without reducing the quality of their product, which is a huge bonus for them. That has been our biggest growth opportunity.
A lot of demand comes from the private sector, mainly because public procurement processes can be intensive. We do get enquiries from the public sector, but most of the time they are looking for the cheapest price. Our value is based on return on investment, which does not always translate well to public sector work. In the private sector, there is greater understanding of the concept that each dollar spent now is an investment in future CAPEX reductions. We have had a lot of success in working with companies such as Saddle Creek Transportation and Waste Connections because we are able to explain to them the true cost they are saving with our services.
How have the needs of your clients evolved over the last three to five years?
We are the only minority-owned natural gas marketing company in the state of Florida, and this is what started our relationship with Waste Connections. But as we began to evaluate their business, the largest overhead was their employees. We had to find ways to work with them to increase service while keeping rates the same. Over the course of the last four years, we have saved Waste Connections around $2.5 million.
On a local and national level, what emerging or continuing trends could have an impact on your business?
There is so much development in the Tampa area, and with new residents come new commercial activity, which is part of our core business. As long as the economy is growing at this pace, we will have the opportunity to provide our services. Regulation is a big indicator for us, and one thing we are monitoring closely is the recent push for carbon footprint reduction. We all have to be mindful of environmental impact and, primarily in the private sector, the main goal is to save money. If we can provide ways to do this while also reducing their carbon footprint, these are the best business models for all parties.
It is vital for everyone to work toward clean energy solutions. We take pride in being subject-matter experts and understanding what our customers need. CNG and liquid natural gas (LNG), while more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum options, may not be suitable for all modes of transportation. There is room for electric and hydrogen technologies too, so we need to understand which technologies pair better with which fuel source and the impact that has on the environment.
How is new technology impacting how companies develop and administer environmental energy solutions?
The smaller the company, the lesser the disruption. Take a huge company that has made large investments in a particular technology. It takes a lot of momentum to make that company change course. Small businesses are nimbler and have the flexibility to try things out on a smaller scale before launching. On the metering side, we have AMR-AMI, which allows meter readings to be sent out electronically, meaning customers can understand energy usage on a daily or even hourly basis. There will only be greater focus placed on data collection and analysis going forward.
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